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Photo: David Cheskin - PA Images/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a fast-acting nasal treatment for depression Tuesday to be marketed under the name Spravato, intended to help adults who live with severe depression that have not responded to other treatments.

Why it matters: Nearly 16 million American adults are currently diagnosed with depression, of which as many as 5 million fail to respond to existing treatments, reports the Washington Post. The new drug, developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., an arm of Johnson & Johnson, comes in the form of a nasal spray called esketamine and can be effective within hours, rather than the weeks or months typical of other antidepressants, such as Prozac.

Details: The FDA approval requires that doses be given in certified settings such as a doctor's office or clinic, and that patients be monitored for at least 2 hours in case of side effects, such as disassociation. In addition, the packaging for the new treatment will contain a so-called "black box" warning label — the most serious category — indicating potential sedation, problems with attention, judgment and thinking, as well as abuse and suicidal thoughts.

But, but, but: The drug, which contains an active form of ketamine, has antidepressant properties that are not entirely understood, particularly when it comes to its long-term effects, Jeffrey Lieberman, a Columbia University psychiatrist told the Post.

The bottom line: Esketamine represents the first depression drug in years to be approved that works via a completely different mechanism in the brain, as compared to the previous generation of medications. For many with treatment-resistant depression, the new drug offers newfound hope of relief.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.